Sea-battle of Copenhagen

Historical representation of the sea-battle of Copenhagen
sea-battle of Copenhagen
conflict second coalition war
date 2. April 1801
place Copenhagen in Denmark
result British victory
dead ones and
wounded one
wounded contractor Great Britain
Denmark Norway commanders Hyde
Horatio Nelson,
Thomas Graves
Fischer , standing
Bille Truppenstärken of 20
liners, 5
frigates, 23
smaller warships
of 7
liners, 24 other losses 264 dead ones, 689
Second coalition war (1798-1802)
Zurich I - Montebello - Trebia - Novi - Zurich II - Genova - stick oh II - Marengo - high city - high lime trees - Copenhagen - Algeciras

in the sea-battle of Copenhagen defeated the British fleet among the admirals Sir Hyde Parker, Horatio Nelson and Thomas Graves to 2. April 1801 the Danish fleet and destroyed it to a large extent.

Table of contents


Great Britain was in the year 1801 in the war with France. Belonged to the second coalition in such a way specified against France beside Great Britain, Austria, Portugal, Neapel, the Osmani realm and the church state also to Russia , however the latter showed under Zar Paul I. since 1800 clear sympathies for France. A nordische anti-British coalition from Russia, Denmark , Sweden and Prussia threatened. These states insisted on their status of the “armed neutrality”, thus the protection of the own free trade, also with the war-prominent nations. Great Britain decided, the combination of the strong fleets of Russia to prevent Denmark and Sweden by a preventive war. This should be directed first against Denmark, particularly since the fleets of Sweden and Russia were blocked at the beginning of spring still in the ports by the ice of the Baltic Sea. Great Britain saw a direct and substanzielle reinforcement of the French fleet in the armed neutrality of the Baltic Sea neighbors. Of the Danish fleet Nelson, it judged is anyway too large “for a small country”.

To 26. January 1801 reported Time that Sir Hyde Parker was used as Commander-in-Chief of a Baltic Sea squadron with lord Nelson as a deputy. Nelson held itself for a better sailor than Parker and wrote: „Our friend (Parker) is a little nervous with the thought to dark nights and Eisfelder. But we must together-tear ourselves; this are not the times for (weak) nervous systems “. The admiralty began to formulate their plans and knows the Commander-in-Chief of the channel fleet, John Jervis, Earl OF pc. Vincent, on, some liners (HMS London, pc. George, Courageux, Russell, Warrior, Defiance, Saturn, to station Edgar and Bellona) north of Brest. Smaller units (bomb ships etc.) were overhauled in shipyards and pulled together in Yarmouth. The planned action had to be accomplished fast, before at the beginning of of April would thaw the ice of the Baltic Sea and the Russian fleet could unite with the Swedish and Danish fleets. To 6. March 1801 reached Nelson Yarmouth and stated to its appearing strange that the Commander-in-Chief lived ashore. When it admits to it became that the wife of the admiral planned a large ball for the coming week, he wrote the admiralty and expressed its concern. The letter had the desired effect: at the 11. March 1801 received Sir Hyde Parker the formal instruction for running out on the following day. To 18. March was reached the Skagerrak, to 19. March was orbited Skagen, to 24. March Helsingør happens.

Parkers instructions were to appear before Copenhagen and to induce the Danes to the retreat from the armed neutrality. That left a whole set of options open, over which Parker and Nelson did not become united. Nelsons suggestion to demonstrate the strength of the fleet was rejected by Parker. Instead the British demands were brought by only one frigate. The Danes, over for some days the fleet exactly in the picture, crossing in their waters, rejected however negotiations.

preparation of the battle

the battle-experienced British fleet was led by admiral Parker, Nelson was its deputy, Graves the second deputy. It consisted of 20 liners, 5 frigates and 23 smaller warships. The federation reached to 21. March 1801 the north entrance of the Öresunds. There one anchored, and a British diplomat undertook a last attempt to induce the Danish government to separating from the nordischen coalition. When that had as expected failed, the federation went to 30. March anchor up, penetrated at the attachments at the northern Sundeingang past into the Öresund and began with the investigation of the sea-area before Copenhagen.

The Danish fleet was led by Kommodore Olfert Fischer. The ships had lain in the homeland base Copenhagen, were only weakly occupied and not for a fight prepared. Because there were not sufficient crews, one had called civilian sailors and Kopenhagener citizen to the service to the weapons. For the battle the ships were embodied in the driving water before Copenhagen in a long row as swimming batteries. Their advantage consisted of the fact that they could be supplied directly before the own port lying also during the battle from there. In addition came a large number of coastal batteries, which could strengthen the fire of the fleet. The Danes had formed the defensive line in north south direction directly before the sand bank of the island Amager, in order in such a way to protect together with the batteries of the Trekroner fortress (/55/42/10/N/12/36/48/E) and other land batteries which were because of the northern end of the sand bank the port. The line of the anchoring, with one another stowed ships was for instance because of the sea-lateral end of the today's harbor facilities between the sand bank before Amager and the middle ground bank, about 1.5 nautical miles long. Between the larger ships [Sjælland (Zweidecker 74), Infødsretten (Zweidecker 64), Dannebrog (Zweidecker 60, flagship), Holsteen (60), Prøvesteenen (Dreidecker 52/56), Jylland (Zweidecker 48/54) and Wagrien (Zweidecker 48/52)] only smaller units (frigates, wheel from and Prahme with 10 to 20 cannons) were assigned. Only ‚Sjælland'' and ‚Holsteen' were in good condition. The land batteries supplemental by two two-cover he of Hulks [Elephanten (70) and Mars (64)] as well as two further 74er, one frigate and two Briggs. Altogether the Danes had positioned about 600 cannons. To 30. March 1801 anchored the British fleet against 22 o'clock north of Copenhagen. An approximation of the north would have meant an immediate argument with the batteries of the Trekroner fortress (30 pieces of 24-Pfünder and 38 pieces of 36-Pfünder). The fortress had the firepower of the heaviest artillery of a broadside and the advantage of safe covering. An approximation of the south meant the passage of the close driving water between Amager and salt cross-beam and the roundness of the middle ground bank. A similar situation had had Nelson with the battle of Abukir before itself: a line of anchoring ships, strengthens by land batteries and substantial navigational problems in little presumptuous driving landing on water. In the morning 31. March undertook Nelson with the artillery officers of the ships on board a frigate an investigation of the Trekroner battery. In the afternoon it received the instruction to start with 12 liners and all smaller units the attack during Sir Hyde Parker with to the remaining 8 liners [HMS London (98), pc. George (98), Warrior (74), Defence (74), Saturn (74), Ramillies (74), Raisonable (64) and veteran (64)] the reserve formed, which should be on the other side north the middle ground.

process of the battle

Öresund around 1888

in the evening of the 1. April 1801 anchored Nelsons fleet south to the sand bank, about 2 nautical miles far away from the Danish fleet. In the protection of the darkness the depths of the driving water were soldered. Nelsons instructions to the captains of its fleet had three substantial elements: 1. The British fleet should anchor parallel to their opponents and not happen after overpowering an opposing ship on the firing side of the own ships, in order to attack the next opponent. 2. Filters bomb Ket with high-angle weapons should anchor east to the own line and fire over the own ships away. 3. After overpowering the Trekroner battery should be stormed it by naval infantry and sailors

at 9.30 o'clock 2. April 1801 gave the instruction to Nelson to clear the anchors. HMS Agamemnon (64) ran due to and did not participate in the further fights not, trunk (74) and Bellona (74) had basic contact and dropped back. Nelson reacted immediately: it pulled HMS Elephant (74) on the line position of the Bellona, course (74) sat down before the flagship and monarch (74) replaced Elephant in the line. Now Nelson brought only 5 frigates [HMS Désirée (36), Amazon (32/38), Blanche (36), Alcmène (32) and Jamaica (24)] and 9 liners into the battle: beside the mentioned still the 74er Defiance and Edgar, the 64er Polyphemus and Ardent as well as Isis (50) and Glatton (54/56). HMS Glatton under the command of captain William Bligh (see also: Meuterei on the Bounty) was completely equipped with Karronaden in place the otherwise usual long tubing cannons as only ship. These dreadful large-caliber weapons were conceived for close combat. The Danish batteries began all ships around 10:40 clock with the fire, around 11:17 clock were complicated into the fight. The British ships faced before tail anchors their opponents only few hundred meters, both sides fired with highest speed their broadsides. Maneuver was impossible. HMS Elephant fought with the Danish flagship Dannebrog and two swimming batteries lying before it. Of captain Henry Riou (HMS Amazon) led squadrons of much too weak smaller ships attacked the Trekroner battery under heavy losses. Against 13:15 clock, after nearly two hours of violent fire, tried to make itself, from its position from a picture for Sir Hyde Parker the situation. A ship sat due to, the reserves could because of wind conditions no longer into the fight be brought and at least two from Nelsons ships distress signals had set. He said to his flying a flag captain: „I will give Nelson the retreat signal, around its sake. If it is able to continue the action it will not consider it, if not, it is an apology for its retreat “. Over the consequences for its own Reputation itself Parker was probably conscious, but it would have been cowardly to leave to Nelson the whole disgrace of a miss. The refusal to obey orders of lord Nelson, following on it, became famous. The signal officer on HMS Elephant saw the signal for the abort of the battle and reported to the admiral. That did, as if he had not heard anything, and as the officer, said he repeated: „Mr. Long Ford, I instructed you to observe and to me report the Danish Kommandierenden, if it gives up. Keep your eye thus firm on it “. But the officer asked a question, which could not be ignored: whether it is to pass the signal on of the Commander-in-Chief to the other ships. Nelson instructed on that to confirm it made sure however that its own signal flag, continue the fight, nor blew. Then it turned to its flying a flag captain Thomas Foley and said themselves: „You know, Foley that I have only one eye - I am a right, sometimes to be blind “. And then it held its binoculars before the blind eye and said: „Which signal? I see no signal real! “Captain Henry Riou (HMS Amazon), a outstanding naval officer, could see from its position at the point of the line the signal of the Commander-in-Chief, not however to Nelsons flagship. It was too young and too low in the rank list, in order to oppose the signal of the Commander-in-Chief. As only confirmed one it the signal, but did not only act thereafter. With the retreat Amazon and the other smaller ships came under the mörderische fire of the Trekroner battery. Its last words are to have been: „Which will think Nelson from us? “And after it: „Now, young, let us all together die “, before a ball separated it into two halves.

Nelson continued the battle, particularly since the Danish flagship was already Dannebrog except combat and Kommodore Fischer had had to change first on the Holsteen and to their loss ashore on the Trekroner battery. Nelsons of ships attacked the Danish directly, and on board sea-soldiers present conquered a number of them. Many Danes came into war shank.

Starting from 14:00 the Danish ships and batteries adjusted clock gradually the fire. Most ships were only smoking wrecks. Two ships of the reserve emerged and still participated in the fights, which took an end after five hours against 16:00 clock. The British had more than 350 dead ones and 850 wounded, the Danish losses lay even still more highly. Nelson commentated: „I fought against my instructions. Perhaps I will be hung. Now well, leave' it! “

As the fire, sent Nelson left parliament acre to the Danish Crown Prince, in which he conveyed a number of demands. It threatened to set the swimming batteries in fire, already conquered, and also including their catches crews explode to let. It came to the change of several letters, in which Denmark accepted the armistice terms. Briefly after 15.00 o'clock ended the battle and a little later exploded the burning Dannebrog. 24 - hour armistice was signed by the Danish general aide Lindholm around 20:00 on the flagship ‚London'. At the 3. April had Nelson an two-hour conversation with the Crown Prince and his general aide in the lock Amalienborg. Nelsons negotiating position was that the Danes should follow or disarm with her fleet the Britisher. These demands were extremely problematic for Denmark: a protection of the trade ships would not be possible any longer and an attack of Russia could the result be. The negotiations dragged on several-day-long, to to 8. April a formal armistice was agreed upon for 14 weeks.

The conquered Danish ships were sunk after release of the prisoners or brought to England. The Danish navy was actually disarmed and could not be used no more against Great Britain.

consequences of the battle

with the armistice in the back, segelte the British fleet under Hyde Parker of 12. up to 22. April 1801 into the Baltic Sea. Fears that a strong Swedish fleet would come from the ports, were not confirmed. With Sweden it signed to 20. April a special agreement, which extracted the country from the nordischen coalition. Sir Hyde Parker rejected it besides, into the eastern Baltic Sea to sails, in order not to confront the Russians. The France-friendly Zar Paul was to 24. March 1801 murdered and its successor Alexander did not want a war against England. After the return to Copenhagen Parker was kommandiert to London, after its behavior in the battle admits with Copenhagen had become. Nelson was from now on the sea-hero of England. To 6. May 1801 it hisste for the first time its flag as a Commander-in-Chief of the Baltic Sea fleet and segelte after Reval, which had rejected Hyde Parker before. Emerging the British fleet remained however without result, because the ice of the Baltic Sea had melted and the Russian fleet stationed in Reval with the other ships had already united.

Even if history does not repeat itself, it nevertheless already came to short time to a second, completely similar battle with Copenhagen. After Denmark 1807 under the influence Napoleon had come, threatened the again developed Danish fleet again the opponent of England to become. To 13. The British under admiral James Gambier Copenhagen attacked August 1807. This time except the fleet 17,000 land soldiers were used, who besieged the city. Admiral Gambier let it fire at and set according to plan in fire. In order to turn the complete destruction away, the entire Danish fleet at England had to be delivered.

After these two attacks the English term is ton copenhagen developed, a fleet attack on a hostile, to a large extent defenseless fleet in the port describes. Briefly before the First World War the British admiral Sir John Fisher suggested , tons copenhagen the German fleet, with which he meant an assault on Wilhelmshaven with the goal of destroying the deep-sea fleet in the port. That was rejected by the political guidance.

Nelsons threat to blow up the Danish ships with the prisoners was not also with the understanding at that time of warfare in the agreement. It is particularly regarded in Denmark as heavy misdemeanour, which does not get along with the Gentleman reputation Nelsons.

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